Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz, too.

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.

Stratton has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



1. The book Ten Authors and Their Novels by Somerset Maugham, from Libreria Buchholz in Bogota. I rationalized the theft because it was hard to find quality lit in English in Bogie in 1974. The bookstore carried quality English-language paperbacks, mostly Penguins from England. I justified my theft because I fantasied that Buchholz was an escaped Nazi on the lam in Latin America. I dealt with Buchholz’s son, who often showed me around. Nice guy. (I found out the other day, on the web, the father had been an art dealer for Hitler, specializing in unloading “degenerate” Jewish art for a profit. So there.)

2.In the late 1980s I bought a backyard jungle gym for my kids from Heights Furniture & Toy. The store failed to charge me for the tent portion — the multicolored fabric “treehouse” part. I never told Heights Furniture about the error. The treehouse tent was approximately $150. I disliked the owners at Heights Furniture because they sold bikes but didn’t know much about bikes. I bought a bike there –- and I still use it 45 years later. So Heights Furniture was probably OK people, and I was a schmuck.

3.Last week I was in Lucky’s (like a Whole Foods) at West 117 Street, and I walked out with $24 in free Faroe Island salmon. The fish was free to me because I went through the self-serve checkout and screwed up on the machine. When I asked for help, the store clerk double-voided my salmon purchase.

The salmon was in my bag. I was in the parking lot. Free fish. I felt guilty but not super guilty. Funny, I had been in Rosh Hashanah services just two days prior, where the rabbi had talked about regrets. The rabbi had regretted, for instance, not continuing to visit an elderly man in a nursing home. The rabbi had told the old man he would continue to visit but didn’t. (The rav was in college at the time.)

I went about my job in Lakewood. The fish was in my car trunk. I talked to a building manager about lease renewals, and then I talked about pecados (sins). She’s from Latin America. I said the High Holidays are kind of like what Catholics do every week – confess sins. I mentioned, in part, my situation at Lucky’s. She said, “You probably returned the fish.”

OK. I went back to Lucky’s. Three clerks thanked me for my “honesty.” I said, “Tell Saltzman.” (The Saltzman family owns the Lucky’s stores in Cleveland.)

. . . I stole the book. I stole the jungle-gym tent. I didn’t steal the fish. So I’m bragging here. Now I gotta cut back on the bragging. (Proverbs 11:2)

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1 Mark Schilling { 09.27.23 at 10:40 am }

I also have been a gonif with regrets. When I was in junior high in Barberton a neighborhood friend had the bright idea of forming a street gang. (He was a fan of “West Side Story.”) I was invited to join along with several other kids, none credible juvenile delinquents. We called ourselves the Hoods and went around commiting minor acts of vandalism, as befitted a proper street gang. We also shoplifted records and other items, but I only served as a lookout for the kids actually doing the filching. Then I tried to lift something on my own — a couple of peanuts from an open bin. Unfortunately, the friend’s father caught me in the act and never let me forget it. He thought it was a big joke — until his son was handed over to the police for shoplifting in a department store. By that time, I was in Pennsylvania and my brief career of thievery was (almost) over.

2 Bert Stratton { 09.27.23 at 10:48 am }

To Mark Schilling:
“By that time I was in Pennsylvania ” . . . Man on the run.

3 Stephen Mumford { 09.27.23 at 12:25 pm }

Probably around 14, I briefly stole comic books at conventions in Boston. It was easy to do: everyone had their wares out on big fold-out tables. You’d sidle up to the table and place your own stack of comics on top of the nearest display comic, then pick it up with your stack and split.
I feel bad about it, but I’m glad I didn’t do it for long. Comic book sellers are just about the least-deserving people to steal from IMO. I’m not proud.

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